Nortons Dairy is celebrating having won the best Flavour Added Cheese at the 2017 British Cheese Awards for its St Swithins Soft with Lavender. The Nortons new natural yogurt also picked up a deserved Bronze medal.

The awards, the pre-eminent cheese event in the UK and a great celebration of British cheese, took place on Wednesday 31st May 2017 at the Royal Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. 

Nortons Dairy is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Owner Emily Norton explains “This award could not have come at a better time for us. Our St Swithins Soft with Lavender was the first flavour added cheese we made after starting with the original St Swithins Soft 10 years ago. To win this national recognition is credit to the hard work of the family, staff and customers who have supported us over the years”. 

The Norton family make St Swithins Soft on the farm using only milk from their own small herd of very pampered Brown Swiss dairy cows. The herd is milked through a voluntary milking system. “We pride ourselves on creating a high welfare system for our cows. We focus on providing the cows with all the comforts they could need, from the best grass and fresh water to a comfortable straw bed in the winter. Good stuff in makes great stuff out” explains Emily.
Just under 1,000 cheeses were entered into the awards by 144 cheesemakers. On the day 70 judges judged the cheeses in 135 classes and nine categories. The judging and the presentation of the prizes at the awards dinner all took place on the same day. 

To achieve this level of national recognition for artisan dairy produce from Norfolk is a great achievement for the Norton family. “I am extremely proud of St Swithins Soft with Lavender and it has developed a loyal following amongst foodies and restaurateurs all over the eastern counties”, said Emily. “What has delighted me even more is the bronze medal for our Nortons slow matured yogurt. This marks it out as one of the very best yogurts in the country, and as we only started making it late last year this is a massive achievement. 

Peter Mitchell, chairman of the British Cheese Awards, says: “Congratulations to Nortons Dairy for winning Best in Category – Flavour Added Cheese for its cheese Nortons St Swithins Soft with Lavender. It’s a great achievement and recognition of the care and attention put into making it and its quality.”

“We were really thrilled to have such a large number of entries for this year’s awards. We had just under 1,000 entries, an +11% increase on last year. This increase was really encouraging and shows that the British cheese industry is thriving. It was a diverse range of entries that included well-established cheesemakers as well as some who have only been producing cheese for a short amount of time.

As well as Supreme Champion, the Reserve Champion, four Country Awards and the eight Main Category Awards, there were also 13 Special Awards. Within the Special Awards there was a new award this year for Best Specialist Cheesemaker. 

Judges scored the cheeses on presentation, texture, aroma, flavour and balance. Dependent on the scores that each cheese received, gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded.